Dead Man Waiting

Stan “Tookie” Williams is slated to be executed tomorrow. Jesse Jackson, Snoop Dogg, community leaders and an assortment of celebrities and activists had been lobbying The Govenator to grant clemency on the basis of his apparent turn over a new very large leaf and his children’s literature acumen. Not surprisingly, this has become a big hot-button issue, not only in California, but around the country.

A little background on Mr. Williams…

He is convicted of killing four in 1979 and is the founder of the infamous Crips gang. Mr. Williams maintaines his innocence in the murders and his supporters cite his anti-gang work from prison and a supposedly flawed trial as the reasons clemency should be granted. The families of his victims and law enforcenment officials are stridently opposed to a grant of clemency.
Check here and here for more info.

A few thoughts on this affair…

1.) I support the death penalty. But I also support clemency in similar cases, if not this one specificly. I believe in second chances. I’ve been given the greatest second chance of all through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I was guilty and destined to die, not only physically, but spiritually as well. I would spend my eternity apart from God, in everlasting suffering. But He came and died to pay my debt and gave me the gift of life–eternal life with Him in heaven. All I had to do was admit that I was guilty and believe that His death and resurection was the only thing I needed to save me. So, I’ve been granted the greatest second chance of all. And third and fourth. Even though I stumble, I can still rest in the knoweledge that God has forgiven me because I was contrite and honest and recognized I needed His mercy and grace (Check here for the details). Which leads us to Tookie.

He was steadfast until the end in claiming that he was innocent. Mr. Williams did admit for founding the Crips, but denied any involvement in the four murders. Earlier this week the California Supreme Court and even the notoriously liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held up his guilty verdict and refused to issue a stay of execution. Few are going to offer forgiveness and mercy if it isn’t asked for. Had he been contrite and honest, The Govenator may have acquieced.

2.) Had he been honest and contrite and if he has indeed turned over a new very large leaf and had clemency been granted, if all those things were true, he very well may have been a powerful voice to speak out against gangs. An average punk on the street doesn’t put much stock in what some white politician from suburbia has to say about the evils of gang violence. But if someone who has been there, who lived that life and experienced it first hand can truly transform himself, maybe that punk on the street will listen a little longer to what he has to say. Maybe he’ll see someone like himself and realize that maybe there is a better way to live. By not coming clean, Mr. Williams threw away a golden opportunity to effect great change in the lives of those who followed in his murderous footsteps.

3.) There will be those, and there are, that will believe that he is innocent and will say that this is a horrible miscarriage of justice. But as we’ve mentioned earlier, the highest court in the land has refused to step in, going so far as to say the last minute appeal, “is without merit and is manifestly designed for delay.” If there is all this evidence of an unfair trial, why has it taken until the day before the execution to come to light? Where was it 20, 10, 5, or even one year ago? (As a side note, if the idiots who tamper with evidence, juries, or witnesses in order to ensure “justice”, really wanted justice they’d keep their grubby hands in their pockets so some crazy murderer/pervert doesn’t get off on a technicality.)

Despite writing all this, I havn’t followed this saga very closely. It can be tough to sort out the facts in these types of cases when so many people on both sides seem so sure that they are the right ones. Both claim to have the moral high-ground and blame the other for doing irreparable damage to society. This is when you have to let the system do it’s work. The System is much maligned because it is not perfect. But no system conceived by man will ever be perfect. And The System knows that, and it’s custodians know that, which is why the appeals process is in place. But at some point, you exhaust all the options The System has to offer. When that time comes, justice must be served and the sentence carried out. Fortunately, unles your name is Tookie Williams, The System works.


I read this quote from Williams here:

I don’t want food or water or sympathy from the place that is going to kill me. I don’t want anyone present for the sick and perverted spectacle. The thought of that is appalling and inhumane. It is disgusting for a human to sit and watch another human die.

Is that what he was thinking when he air conditioned four victims with a shotgun? I guess he probably didn’t stick around to watch them actually die.


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